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Original Investigation |

Prevalence of Childhood Exposure to Violence, Crime, and Abuse Results From the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence

David Finkelhor, PhD1; Heather A. Turner, PhD1; Anne Shattuck, MA1; Sherry L. Hamby, PhD2
[+] Author Affiliations
1Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham
2Department of Psychology, Sewanee–The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee
JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(8):746-754. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.0676.
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Importance  It is important to estimate the burden of and trends for violence, crime, and abuse in the lives of children.

Objective  To provide health care professionals, policy makers, and parents with current estimates of exposure to violence, crime, and abuse across childhood and at different developmental stages.

Design, Setting, and Participants  The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) includes a representative sample of US telephone numbers from August 28, 2013, to April 30, 2014. Via telephone interviews, information was obtained on 4000 children 0 to 17 years old, with information about exposure to violence, crime, and abuse provided by youth 10 to 17 years old and by caregivers for children 0 to 9 years old.

Main Outcome and Measure  Exposure to violence, crime, and abuse using the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire.

Results  In total, 37.3% of youth experienced a physical assault in the study year, and 9.3% of youth experienced an assault-related injury. Two percent of girls experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse in the study year, while the rate was 4.6% for girls 14 to 17 years old. Overall, 15.2% of children and youth experienced maltreatment by a caregiver, including 5.0% who experienced physical abuse. In total, 5.8% witnessed an assault between parents. Only 2 significant rate changes could be detected compared with the last survey in 2011, namely, declines in past-year exposure to dating violence and lifetime exposure to household theft.

Conclusions and Relevance  Children and youth are exposed to violence, abuse, and crime in varied and extensive ways, which justifies continued monitoring and prevention efforts.

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